Teaching & Learning

Formats and Media

There are multiple aspects to consider when selecting the most appropriate way of delivering learning resources to students online. A few of the most relevant formats and media types are listed below, with a brief explanation of their characteristics and suggested uses.

MyLO HTML page iconMyLO HTML document

These single-page documents are created using the MyLO HTML Editor (when the Create New File option is selected within the MyLO Content). Each page appears a "Topic"  within the Content.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • Easy to create, and to update.
  • Support and reference materials available.
  • Viewable from any computer with just a modern web browser.
  • Can contain other media (e.g. embedded videos, images) and/or links to other online resources within content.
  • Easy version control (students are always looking at the one online version which can be updated at any time).
  • Not easily printed.
  • Enables the creation of highly accessible content.
  • The raw HTML code can be edited if required, or each document can be created entirely with the Word-like editing tool.
  • Templates can be used to make more visually-appealing and consistent page layouts.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Most new learning resources you create for online delivery at the University of Tasmania (where the content is text-based information with some other media such as images and diagrams embedded within). This should be your default format.
  • Documents created to provide context for external resources (e.g. a document in which you embed a video, and introduce it with a paragraph of text explaining the relevance to the unit ILOs.)
  • Detailed assessment task instructions (which can be linked to from the Dropbox tool).
  • Content that may need to be regularly updated by other staff members

HTML web page File IconHTML document not created with MyLO

These pages could be created with specialist web design software such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Brackets. They can then be uploaded to the MyLO site as files, and then placed within the Content as Topics.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • A web-based document like those created with the MyLO HTML Editor, but allows more formatting options.
  • Technical knowledge and additional software required to create this content in this format., unlike the MyLO HTML Editor.
  • Might not be directly editable with MyLO tools.
  • Viewable from any computer with just a modern web browser.
  • Can be uploaded to a MyLO site and/or uploaded to an external website.
  • Can be difficult to update: only people with the right software and skills can make edits.
  • Can be Time-consuming to update: the file may need to be downloaded, then edited, then re-uploaded to the MyLO site.
  • Not easy to print.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Pages with special features which can not be created with the existing MyLO editor tools
  • Content which may need to be shared and delivered externally to MyLO (e.g. content developed in partnership with another institution, which the partner institution may wish to present in their own (non-MyLO) Learning Management System).
  • Web pages that already exist in this format and can be used as they are.
  • Library publications.
  • Resources that are likely to require updates by staff members who may not have the required skills or software.
  • Documents that need to be readily printed, such as a Unit Outline, unless an alternativeformat is provided for printing (e.g. this dual format Unit Outline example)

HTML web page File IconLink (URL) to an external web-based resource

There are 3 ways you can present links to students: As a "Quicklink" within MyLO Content, as hyperlinked text within a document, or as embedded media within a document (i.e. the external video, or other resource appears within a frame on a page).

Characteristics and considerations of this format

If you are linking to a resource which you have not created:

  • Links can "break" so they have to be checked and updated at least once a Semester.
  • You have no control over resources disappearing- they may be removed by the owner permanently.
  • You have no control over quality or currency.
  • You can't customise the content, but you can contextualise it (e.g. by adding a description to a Qucklink in MyLO Content).
  • Ensure you provide information on how the students are expected to engage with the external resource- is it a required reading for example?

If you are linking to a resource which you have created:

  • You can avoid uploading multiple copies to manage.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Where quality resources already exist in this format, and are available to use(such as Open Educational Resources and online Library resources).
  • Where you wish to refer to a document you have already uploaded online (e.g. in the MyLO LOR or on a page of the University website), and you want to avoid managing multiple copies that you may later have to update.
  • Where a level of interactivity is desired that cannot readily be created within the available tools such as MyLO or Microsoft Office programs (e.g. a game-based learning activity).
  • Where the quality and currency of the external resource has not been thoroughly reviewed.
  • Where the external resource is not strongly related to the ILOs and therefore the purpose of engaging with the content would not be clear to students. (True of any learning resource, but easier to forget when linking to an existing page!)

MS Word Document IconMicrosoft Word document

This is generally a .docx file – the default type of file saved from Microsoft Word.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word are useful for creating text-based documents with images and other media occasionally embedded within the text.
  • Easily edited - Most staff and students are experience in using Word to view and edit documents.
  • Accessible to staff and students: Word is available on all University computers, and is available to remote students though an Office 360 licence.
  • If you have a Mac, you may also have access to a word processing program called Pages. It is important to use Word instead of Pages, because all staff and students at the University have access to Word whether they are using a Mac or Windows computer.
  • Easily printed, but might look a little different (e.g. fonts might change if you choose non-standard fonts).
  • Enables the creation of highly accessible content.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Documents that you want students to to be able to download and view offline, where editing them is acceptable (e.g. lecture notes: some students prefer to be able to interact with the text as part of the learning process).
  • Documents that students are asked to modify as part of a learning activity or assessment task.
  • Standalone images (e.g. if you are going to provide a large image file to students, there is no need to contain it within a Word document.
  • Content for which a MyLO HTML page would be suitable (i.e. text-based documents you create for online delivery).
  • Documents that you do not wish to be easily modified e.g. the Unit Outline or assessment instructions (a PDF might be more suitable).
  • Documents that require a more complex layout than 1 or 2 columns of text e.g. a poster (Microsoft Publisher might be a better tool for this purpose).
  • Flowcharts and other diagrams. Although Word has some shape drawing tools, it is primarily for text editing and formatting. Microsoft PowerPoint or specialist diagram creation programs might be a better choice for this type of graphic.

PDF document iconPDF document

A PDF document can be "exported" from most software mentioned on this page (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher).

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • A PDF is usually exported as a final "output file" after all editing has been completed, because it is not easily edited, yet easily viewed on almost every computer.
  • Your PDF documents will reliably appear to other viewers as it appears on your screen, (e.g. type will appear just as it did on your computer, even if their computer is missing some of the fonts you used).
  • A PDF document is a good format for printing (because of the above characteristic).
  • It is important to also keep the original source file (e.g. the Word document version) in case you want to make future changes.
  • If you have created something shape-based with fine details (e.g. a diagram, created with shapes in PowerPoint), a PDF is a good choice as it will generally not lose detail or get "pixelated" when scaled up.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Documents that you want students to to be able to download and view offline e.g. the Unit Outline).
  • Documents that need to be easily printed but not edited, such as the Unit Outline, checklists, or Quick Reference documents. It is important to note that a PDF can still be edited with the right skills and software, but it is much harder to accidentally make changes than a Word document!
  • Documents that you don't want to be easily edited (e.g. the Unit Outline, or other assessment information).
  • Documents that contain lots of graphical elements and non-standard fonts, and you need the exact layout and appearance to be predictable for viewing on other computers or when sending to printers.
  • Posters that have a lot of detail and might need to be scaled up or zoomed into without losing quality (e.g. a poster containing a complex diagram designed and exported from Microsoft PowerPoint or Publisher).

MS PowerPoint Document IconMicrosoft PowerPoint Slides

A slideshow made with Microsoft PowerPoint might be saved as a .pptx file.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • If you use a Mac, you may also have access to Keynote for creating presentations. However, it is important to use PowerPoint instead of Keynote because all University of Tasmania staff and students on Mac or Windows have access to PowerPoint.
  • Easily edited.
  • Easily printed, but might look a little different (e.g. fonts might change if you choose non-standard fonts).
  • Readily viewed – all University of Tasmania students are now provided with this software within Office 360.Enables the creation of highly accessible content.
  • Easy to create and combine engaging graphics and diagrams with intermediate computer skills and no expensive design software.
  • Visual aids such as slides can complement text-based resources to explain complex concepts.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Onscreen graphics used to support lectures as a series of slides. Uploading these slides to the MyLO unit, and/or as part of a lecture recording can be a helpful extra learning resource for students to complement text, video, or audio files from lectures.
  • To communicate a process (slides can be a useful tool to illustrate sequenced information)
  • The design of diagrams: PowerPoint is an easy-to-learn tool for creating visual explanations of information, and available on all University of Tasmania computers. You can use a single slide to design a diagram (e.g. a flowchart), then export the slide as an image file, which can be placed within a document, or presented as a standalone resource within MyLO (e.g. a poster).
  • Lesson notes or other types of content containing large amounts of text (it's better to keep the slides simple and readable, and provide large bodies of text in separate document form). If large amounts of text are on the slides the type will be too small for students to read when presented on the screen.
  • As the only content uploaded to MyLO (slides can be a great visual complement to information within a presentation, but do not generally provide all the information required to support student achievement of the unit ILOs). 

Image file iconImage file

An image file could be created with a digital camera, created with an image editing program, exported from another type of document. A couple of common formats are .png or .jpg files * .

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • Common formats such as .png or .jpg files are easily viewed by software on most computers.
  • It can be a difficult balance to ensure image files are of an adequate size/quality to retain visual clarity, while ensuring the file size is small enough for people to download download.
  • images can only be scaled up to a certain size before they look "pixelated" especially when printing. Consider keeping the large version for printing if you need to scale down a copy for presentation on a webpage.
  • You might need to do a little editing to your images to make the file smaller, or to fit them in a layout. If you're using  Windows, a useful piece of software for cropping and resizing images is Microsoft Paint. On a Mac, you can crop and resize images using Preview. 
  • For more advanced functionality, professional image editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop are much more powerful for editing but they require a large investment of time to learn them, and this specialist software is not universally available on University of Tasmania computers.
  • For more information about creating, editing, and resizing images for learning resources, refer to the Images page within Teaching Online in MyLO.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Providing standalone images can be helpful if students might want to print them, or zoom into them where students are required to edit the image directly
  • Where students may need to embed images within other content 

* This information mostly refers to "raster" graphics (images made of pixels), but technically vector graphics can also be image files (e.g. .ai or .eps files). However, these aren't as readily created, viewed or edited without specialist software and skills, so while they may be important formats in a graphic design unit, they are not always relevant more broadly

streaming video and audio iconVideo and/or audio as "streaming" media

"Streaming" media is online video (or audio) where a viewer is not required to download a copy of a file to their computer: a link is clicked and the media is temporarily downloaded ("streamed") every time it is watched (e.g. a link to a YouTube video, or a MyMedia/Echo360 video).

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • An internet connection at the time of watching, but the advantage is that the user is presented with a simple-to-use player directly in their browser.
  • Including videos is a useful way of varying the types of resources and encourage greater student engagement.
  • Videos can be simple recordings of in-class activities, or videos specifically planned, shot and uploaded for student view. Videos can be "live action",  animation, a recorded slideshow, or a combination.
  • Time-based media such as video and audio can support students in learning sequenced information.If you are uploading your video to YouTube, a good privacy option is "unlisted" (this allows you to provide students with a link to the video, while not allowing anyone else to find or view the video).
  • Try to keep videos short to increase engagement. Where possible, present one concept per video so they can be referenced individually (e.g. if you are producing a 20min video about 10 of safety procedures, consider breaking it into 10x2 minute videos that you can insert into your MyLO unit individually or all together).

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Recordings of in-class lectures, videoconferences, or class demonstrations (e.g. using Echo360 and provided to students through the MyMedia service).
  • Instructional videos to explain a process or similar (e.g. a video planned, shot, and edited then uploaded to MyMedia or YouTube so that a link can be provided to students.)
  • Case studies in an interview or narrative format.
  • Where the video is the only source of required information (it is important to provide a text-based alternative to support other learning styles and to meet Accessibility requirements).
  • Where the cohort has a large percentage of remote access students who have limited or unreliable internet access.

Video and or audio file iconVideo (and/or audio) provided to students as a downloadable file

This type of media is very similar to steaming video and audio, except that the extra step of downloading the file is required to view or listen to it. For example, you may choose to provide a .mov video file.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • An extra step is required for students to access the video and audio resources: they need to download before they can play 
  • Students will need to have appropriate software on their computer to view the file, so common video and audio file formats are best
  • Ensures that students are able to download and play offline

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses

As per  streaming video and audio (above), except:

  • The advantage over "streaming" media is that the videos can be watched offline, and therefore students with limited Internet access may benefit. You may not be able to provide a downloadable copy of a video if you were not the one to create it.

As above, and:

  • Where you do not own the video (e.g. you have linked to someone else's video on YouTube).
  • If students are required to download videos files, it can be more difficult to ensure that they have software to view the video, and more complex to work out how to play it if they have low digital literacy.

You can also view a more comprehensive comparison of video recording and delivery options at UTAS.

Interactive activity iconeLearning Authoring Tools

You may also choose to develop interactive learning resources and activities using eLearning authoring software such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, or Elucidat. 

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • eLearning authoring tools allow you to create interactive activities without getting too technical.
  • If you chose to use external tools, these are not supported by University of Tasmania IT Services
  • There is most likely an cost associated with the use of eLearning authoring software (a one-off purchase or an ongoing subscription).
  • Learning additional software does require an additional time commitment.
  • There are two main ways that the final product you produce within eLearning authoring software can be integrated into a MyLO unit:
    • as a file you can upload to your MyLO unit
    • as "cloud based" content, which you can link to and/or embed within your MyLO unit content.
  • It is important to use recent versions of eLearning software, as these will create content that is more accessible on a range of browsers and devices. If you are selecting an authoring package, a desirable quality is that it will output "html" as final content, rather than ".swf" (Flash) files. 

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • When you need to create content with a level of interactivity not possible with tools native to MyLO (e.g. a drag and drop or simulation based activity)
  • Where you could just as easily create the content with MyLO or Office software (e.g. a document of text with a few images embedded within could easily be created directly within the MyLO HTML Editor).
  • It is not recommended that you create structure content of a whole unit using these tools (MyLO should provide the main structure, but eLearning software may be useful to create some of the activities or within the MyLO content ).

ePUB file type iconEPub/Ebook documents

EPub files are a document format designed for viewing on EPub and tablets with reader apps. They are especially useful for long documents.

Characteristics and considerations of this format

  • A document format allowing students to comfortably read documents on their eReader or tablet devices ( large documents reflow and resize smoothly across any screen size for optimal viewing).
  • Special software is required to create a document in this format (e.g. Adobe InDesign).
  • Many existing publications are available in this format.
  • Many documents are already available in this format.
  • Where you provide resources as .ePub files, it it important to provide an alternative document format (e.g. .pdf) for those students who do not have a device capable of  viewing the  .epub format.

When to use this format

Green tick icon Recommended uses Red cross icon Not recommended uses
  • Large documents that you would like to enable students to read easily without having to print.
  • Documents already available in this format that you can easily link to (e.g. open textbooks from Open Educational Resource repositories, or ebooks available from the UTAS library)
  • Documents that are heavily image based (ePubs are better for text-based content, and many don't display graphics very clearly or in colour).
  • Where a document is not already available in this format (it might be time-consuming, or not permissible to create an epub copy.